Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Oven Shopping Guide

Find the best Dutch oven to suit your needs—and your budget.

Published Jan. 24, 2017.

A heavyweight Dutch oven is a piece of equipment you’ll have for years. We’ve run extensive tests on Dutch ovens in the test kitchen, and our preferences are clear: Look for a heavy enameled cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. Too-narrow pots make browning a chore, so we prefer Dutch ovens that are at least 8 inches wide and can hold 6 quarts or more. Dark-colored interiors made it hard to monitor browning, so we stick to pots with light interiors

We have two favorite Dutch ovens in the test kitchen: the gold standard Le Creuset 7¼-Quart Round French Oven, and the more affordable (but still incredibly reliable) Cuisinart 7 Qt. Round Covered Casserole.

The Le Creuset

This pricey pot is still the one to beat. In our tests, it was the most durable and user-friendly with comfortable handles and lower, straight sides that made it easy to move, load, and unload. Its broad, lightly-colored cooking surface allowed us to cook more food faster and monitor browning. It’s heavy, as a Dutch oven should be, but a bit lighter than some of the others we tested. It’s the best Dutch oven money can buy. [Buy Now on Amazon]

The Cuisinart

This model costs a third of what the Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performs almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing. Still, this is a great Dutch oven and well worth your hard earned cash. [Buy Now on Amazon]

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A Lighter Option

Perhaps you prefer a lighter pot, however. Sometimes hauling out a 13-pound Dutch oven for a simple meal can seem excessive. Lacking the enameled surface, lighter stainless-steel models tend to run a little hot, but these pots can still produce a gorgeous fond and will work just as well as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Our favorite is the All-Clad 8-Quart Stockpot. [Buy Now on Amazon]

An Unexpected Accessory

A good steamer basket will enhance your Dutch oven cooking more than you might expect. Steamer baskets make it possible to pair steamed vegetables with slow-cooking (and saucy) main. The legs of our favorite steamer basket from OXO Good Grips were just high enough to lift spears of asparagus or broccoli florets above a bubbling braise, and the perforated basket allowed escaping steam to cook the vegetables to perfection. Despite a host of new baskets on the market, the classic collapsible stainless steel models still won us over every time. [Buy Now on Amazon]

Make Fuss-Free Meals Using Just One Pan

One-Pan Wonders

Cooking on busy weeknights is a heavy lift—it’s easy to be deterred by time-consuming prep before and a sink full of dirty dishes after. One-pan meals would be a great solution, if they didn’t result in bland, mushy food. The test kitchen solved these challenged to create One-Pan Wonders, a collection of inspired, family-friendly recipes for even the busiest home cooks.  

What kind of Dutch oven do you use at home? Let us know in the comments! And for more information about Dutch oven cooking, read the following posts: 

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